It is hard to label "tragic" anyone as cheerful and optimistic as President George W Bush. Perhaps more than any leader in history, Bush is a Christian. Religious conversion is the defining experience of his life, and it is in his nature to convert others. Because he is a 21st-century American and not a 12th-century Crusader, he preaches the ballot box rather than the cross; as I have argued elsewhere ( Mahathir is right: Jews do rule the world , October 28) that amounts to the same thing. Telling in this regard was the president's London oration last week. No less than five references to "ideals" and "idealism" showed where his heart lies; recall his campaign declaration that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher.
Mephistopheles introduced himself to Faust as "ein Teil von jener Kraft, die stets das Boese will und stets das Gute schafft. (a part of that power, which always wants to do evil, but always does good)." Reverse this, and you have the tragedy of Bush: he wants universal good, but he will end up doing some terrible things.
The more Bush preaches idealism, the more the course of events pushes him towards imperial methods. The sort of "Iraqification" Washington has in mind does not differ much from what I foresaw in early October: "He wins who best can tolerate instability. Once upon a time the British were quite good at that. They ruled India with a tiny civil service and a small army, recruiting local forces and using them to excellent effect in a fragmented, multi-ethnic sub-continent. In essence it means recruiting Turks to patrol Basra, Kurds to patrol Tikrit, Shi'ites to occupy Baghdad, while offering bribes, territory and other inducements to Iraq's neighbors to meddle." (How cherry-picking militant Islam can win October 3).Posted by tstubbs at November 29, 2003 02:38 PM